Are you expecting to pass all your inheritance to your husband/wife/partner on 1st death, and then to your children? Have you made ‘mirror wills’ to allow this to happen? Here are 3 reasons why your children may not inherit after all:
- Re-marriage of the surviving spouse.
When you die, you leave everything to your spouse (husband/wife) and expect them to pass everything on to your children on 2nd death. You may even have made ‘mirror’ wills to state that. However, the surviving partner re-marries (invalidating a previous Will) and doesn’t get around to re-making a Will (or makes a new will in favour of the new spouse) so everything now passes to the new spouse and then to their family. Nothing to your children.
- Children from previous relationship.
You are married for a second time (or more!) and both you and your new spouse have children from a previous marriage. You both make Wills leaving everything to each other and then equally between all the children of you both. You die and everything passes to your spouse. Everything now belongs to them, and they can leave whatever they like to whoever they like and revoke any previous will made. After several years, the families have not kept in touch, so your spouse decides to change their Will and leave everything just to his/her family as they believe they are more in need and more deserving. Nothing to your children.
- House sold to pay for care fees.
Your spouse dies and leaves everything to you, but in later life you get dementia and need to be looked after in a care home, so the house has to be sold to pay for care. Nothing to your children.
What can you do to prevent this?
Your main residence can be put in 2 names as Tenants in Common. This simply means that each person owns their own distinct share (usually 50% each), and they don’t have to leave their share in their will to the other owner.
What if you want if you want to leave your property to your children AND ALSO give security to your partner to remain living in the property?
This is possible with Property Protection Trust Wills
How does this work?
New Wills are prepared leaving the property into trust (on 1st death) and also giving a legally guaranteed Life Interest Benefit to the remaining partner. Your children are named as beneficiaries to receive the trust (ie. Your 50% share of the property), but only on the 2nd death. You can also include other assets and properties with a Flexible Life Interest Trust.
Each Will gives the remaining partner the legal right to remain in and benefit from the property for life without ownership of the full capital (they still own their own 50% share). The property cannot be sold without the agreement of the remaining spouse and trustees (but this is possible if all parties agree, ie. to downsize and release some funds). On 2nd death, both shares of the property can pass fully to the beneficiaries.
Creating Property Protection Trust Wills, together with Tenants in Common is a useful way to protect against the risk of inheritance dis-inheriting due to re-marriage or care fees.